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California: Protect Your Driver License Privacy

DEEPLINKS BLOG
September 7, 2015

California: Protect Your Driver License Privacy

The California Legislature wants the DMV to start issuing “Enhanced Driver Licenses” (EDL), similar to a REAL ID, that contain an RFID tag that could expose information about you from up to 30 feet away.

We need your help to bring S.B. 249 to a screeching halt by calling or emailing your state legislator today.

Up until a few days ago, the EDL program proposed in the bill would have prohibited companies from requiring employees to get EDLs, or discriminating against those who refused to get them. The bill also required the unique ID number stored in the RFID tag to be encrypted or otherwise protected from unauthorized reading.

Notice how we’re using past tense?

At the 11th hour, the legislature stripped nearly all the privacy protections. The only security that remains is a DMV-issued sleeve for the card that’s supposed to block RFID readers. But at least one study showed that these sleeves don’t completely block EDLs from being read—they just require someone to get a little closer. And worse yet, now an employer can force its employees to apply for this privacy nightmare, or risk termination.

Supporters argue that you don’t really need to worry, since the RFID tag only contains a randomly assigned “unique identification number that links to information contained in a secure Department of Homeland Security database.” But we’ve seen companies and government agencies use otherwise anonymous ID numbers to track people’s locations before. If S.B. 249 passes, we predict a thriving industry of covert EDL location tracking—and unlike your cell phone, you won’t be able to turn this tracking system off.

Given the changes, and how they were snuck in at the last minute, we’re concerned that a voluntary, opt-in program that was originally intended to help residents and workers who cross the border on a regular basis will eventually become the default for the entire state.

But we can stop these changes before they become law. If you live in California, please contact your legislators right now to let them know you don’t support the privacy-invasive amendments made to S.B. 249.

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